Starring Philip Carey, Diana Millay, Eduardo Ciannelli.
Written by Stuart Jerome and Maxwell Shane based on the Novel by John Holbrook Vance.
Directed by Gerald Mayer.
Noel Hudson (Guy Stockwell) is forced at gunpoint to smuggle heroin for some very bad men in Tangier. En route to the drop off point, Noel gets the better of his escort and steals the heroin. He then disappears from the face of the earth and it's up to his brother Darryl (Carey) to come lookin' for him. The older brother hangs out in seedy bars and is, for a very short time, kidnapped and placed in a cage.
JS: Blink and you'll miss the cage.
PE: The title should have been "Man in a Cage for a Very Brief Time."
JS: I'm not exactly sure what happened here, but I suspect someone secretly switched our brand of Thriller with Folger's Crystals, and I did notice...
PE: After just 18 episodes, we've had ghosts, faux ghosts, psychos, mad bombers, kidnappers, and men who ride too close to each other in cars, but "Man in the Cage" gets my vote for Biggest "WTF?" It's not the worst (that would still be "The Mark of the Hand"), it's not the most boring ("Worse than Murder," anyone?), it just doesn't belong here. We shouldn't be reviewing this because it should never have been aired as a Thriller. (But it is, and we will. That's what we do. -JS)
PE: If I didn't know better, I'd say it was a rip-off of the James Bond series but the first film, Dr. No, was still almost two years away. We've got intrigue, a Blofeld look-alike (no cat, though), and danger in far off lands (well, the Universal backlot and surrounding areas, at least). Sounds like Bond. One thing we get in "Man in the Cage" that was blissfully absent from the James Bond series is the kid sidekick known as Slip-Slip (or was it Jar-Jar?), played by Barry Gordon, who wore out his welcome very quickly in the Enfantino household. Gordon, the child actor grew up to be Gordon, the prolific TV veteran and has been seen in several shows (usually playing the funny Jewish guy), most recently as Larry David's rabbi on Curb Your Enthusiasm.
JS: Viewers who did not appreciate the charms of "The Fatal Impulse" will probably not get too excited about this one either. Call me crazy, but despite it's non-Thriller-ness, in our house we found it reasonably entertaining. Like that episode, it held our interest throughout, and at times had us rewinding to revisit some of the humorous bits, like the frighteningly unnatural photo of Noel and "T-Bone."
PE: I thought it was interesting that Noel Hudson (Guy Stockwell) is introduced as if the episode will revolve around him (and, in a way, it does), he disappears five minutes in, and we never see him again. The central character then becomes his worried brother Darryl (Carey), who searches the back alleys of Tangier to find his younger sibling. We finally discover the fate of Noel (handled off-screen much like the laughable "The Big Blackout.") but, by this time, Guy Stockwell had moved on to greener pastures (regular gigs on "Adventures in Paradise," "The Richard Boone Show," and a guest appearance on the has-been heaven known as Fantasy Island) and so, I assume, didn't have the time to film his last scene.
JS: Consider that a Hitchcockian MacGuffin, like Janet Leigh in Psycho.
PE: I gotta say that as a follow-up to his classic "The Fatal Impulse," director Gerald Mayer lets us down by filming this one pretty straightforward. Imagine if Darryl Hudson had tried to find his brother in the bars of Tangier dressed as a woman or if Slip-Slip had accidentally stepped on an explosive device and blown right out of his flip-flops? I kept waiting for some magic "Thrillah moment" to happen but alas... On the plus side, there is the girl known as "T-Bone" (and yet you fail to mention the bartender's explanation that she's called that because "she likes big, thick ones." - JS) and a funny scene where Darryl gets a phone call at a bar and all around are listening to his conversation until he hangs up the phone and they all look the other way in a sit-com style.
JS: I actually didn't feel let down by Mayer. Sure, it's not as wild and crazy as "Impulse," but it's got its share of goofy bits that keep things interesting throughout.
PE: I've not read the novel (by science fiction author Jack Vance) but it won the Edgar for the Best First Mystery Novel the same year the episode was aired.